I too read through those entire rules & regulations for visiting the islands & came to the same conclusion. They really don't want you visiting in your own boat
. They would much prefer you go as a tourist & pay them to 'escort' you around the islands. It provides an income
for the locals I guess.
We went on a commercial
tour boat operated by a company out of Seattle
called "UNCRUISE" … had a wonderful experience, spending a whole week aboard cruising the islands. But to be honest, I didn't think the Galapagos' had that much to offer, other than big tortoise … & I do mean BIG ... some interesting bird life, along with the iguana marine
lizards plus general sea life such as seals
, sharks, fish
etc. … other than that, it's just a bunch of desert like islands in a very big sea, 1000kms. from the mainland.
Definitely NOT a place I would choose to visit a second time. Also discovered you better do your 'business' before you go visiting ashore at any of the islands as there are no toilets of any kind & you cannot just go off into the shrubs to have a crap or even a pee, which can make for a lot of discomfort if you "really have to go".
Also, NOT a place to go if one has physical mobility problems such as myself. I spent most of my visit staying aboard, viewing the islands thru binoculars. But the drinks were good & I caught up on a lot of reading.
Best place to buy souvenirs we found was at the airport
on departure. Let's face it, it's just a huge tourist trap with little to offer once you've seen the limited amount of wildlife. I wouldn't categorise it as "much ado about nothing", but pretty close. I would equate it with being in prison. You're captive on an island or two & nowhere to go. You can tell I'm not a naturalist. But I feel one can see far more interesting wildlife here on the west coast
& B.C. Canada
, & most assuredly Alaska